Monday, March 4, 2013

The road to Hell's Gate is paved with good friends and plenty of event support

March 3, 2013

CorpsCamp is over, the Death Valley Spring Century is history, and I haven't had a lot of time to update my blog this past week.

That's not a bad thing. Camp days are packed. If you're not on your bike (which you are, for hours and hours every day), then you're probably getting ready to ride your bike, fueling up to ride your bike, cleaning up after riding your bike, re-fueling after riding your bike, talking about riding your bike, or sleeping. The days fly by. It makes you feel like you've entered some kind of time warp.

Sitting around the Furnace Creek Ranch fire pit with friends and fellow riders turned out to be a regular (and favorite) evening event. Here's where we all can be smug, talk trash, toast our accomplishments, and tell stories* with people who appreciate how hard it is, truly, to ride a bike in Death Valley.

Jill and Tim, and he's sporting a  super-cool T-shirt!
Because riding in Death Valley isn't like riding anywhere else, or at least it's not like riding at home in Northeast Ohio. An easy 34-mile round trip somewhere back home might take a couple of hours, but an early morning out-and-back to Badwater from Furnace Creek, although still only 34 miles of flat to rolling, takes longer and feels, well, different somehow.

Maybe it's the too-cold-then-too-hot mornings or the prickly dry desert air. Maybe it's because the flats are all false and the winds are always there, whether you feel them or not. Maybe the awesomeness of the Valley simply causes something deep inside you to slow down - just a little - because you can only absorb so much of it at one time.

 This was my best CorpCamp experience so far. The weather was perfect: the wind gods appeased (maybe because Jason brought his stunt kites and was hoping for some wind. Fickle wind). I rode farther, ascended higher, descended faster, climbed stronger than all my previous Camp years. And I did it in great company.
Angie and I at Hell's Gate. HELL YEAH!!!

And now all that's left is the screaming 35+ mph hour, 10-mile descent back to Hwy 190...

*We give special treatment/pay rapt attention to the Furnace Creek 508 Race vets, whose stories are often very colorful and maybe even a little crazy. Here's Steve 'Protoceratops' Barnes, captured for all eternity:

I'll have more post-CorpCamp/Spring Century blog updates soon. I promise.

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